Sunday, March 3, 2019

Punk Rock Princess Fest Review!! (Algonquin Pub Half)

Hey guys, it's time at last for our review of last night's Joni Radford memorial concerts, a.k.a. Punk Rock Princess Fest! Due to the unique split-venue nature of the event, I'm going to review the bands playing upstairs at The Rockstar Bar in our next post, with this one focusing on the downstairs action and general concert info. Of course, this event was completely devoted to Joni's memory, with pretty much every TV and screen showing a slideshow of pictures of her and inspirational quotes, which was a great touch to allow everyone to remember her life and good times! T-shirts and sweatshirts were on sale, not unlike the ones from the David Gold memorial shows in 2012, and Joni's own Bad Religion canvas poster was raffled off before The Cover-Up's set upstairs. Event co-promoter and Case's Music owner Carrie Suriano spoke before Destroilet's set to thank everyone for making this event possible and give a toast to Joni, though if other teased presentations and speeches occurred, I was on the wrong floor.

Attendance was excellent, especially for the final two bands upstairs, but from about 9:00-11:00 PM, when bands were actively playing on both floors, the attendance was understandably thinned out as people chose their preferred bar and/or band. It may have been a more impressive group for the long-term if everyone was on one floor, but this felt more like a special event the way it was structured. Thank goodness for the wristbands so I could freely hop between floors! As the Algonquin Pub bands straddled with the first two bands upstairs, I didn't see any of their full sets, so if I missed any special performances or Joni tributes, I completely apologize.

A minor band swap resulted in The Algonquin Pub/Spin Nightclub's first band being local punk trio Stegadeth (the only returning band from Joni's benefit show last year), who got a solid crowd early, possibly helped by mostly playing unopposed. Fans gathered saw a solid set of originals like "Kingdom of Ashes" & "The Wire" alongside covers from the likes of GG Allin, The Dead Kennedys, SNFU, and yes, Bad Religion, among others. Musically, Stegadeth were on form, with Tiffany Stocco nailing some solid riffs, and her and bassist Bill Bennett were a nice compliment, but the vocals were often very muffled. My big takeaway is that Tiffany and Bill should work on their stage presences and between-song banter, as things were a bit stiff (especially compared to Johnny Belanger's energy on drums.) Solid blast of punk overall though for Stegadeth!

Post-lineup switch, the second downstairs band was now Stegadeth's side project Coral Fang, a tribute to Los Angeles punk legends The Distillers. Things didn't change dramatically in tone, as Tiffany and Johnny remained on stage, now joined by A Dire Setback's Chris Nielsen and Destroilet's Adam Larcoque. This was Coral Fang's third public show, but the first time I've seen them live, and fans were treated to renditions of such Distillers songs as "Drain The Blood", "Dismantle Me", "City of Angels", and (of course) "Coral Fang". I am not a Distillers scholar, but from what I know of their songs, I can tell that everyone performed well and tackled these songs with energy and enthusiasm! Adam did seem to be standing a little far from everyone else, and Tiffany should project her voice more to match Brody's intensity on the original songs, but overall, this was a natural extension, and here's hoping we hear more from Coral Fang!

Headlining the bottom floor action was local punk/metal quintet Jack Spades, completing Tiffany and Johnny's triple-booking on this night (good thing they didn't have to lug all their gear upstairs!) Their set followed a pseudo-Handsome Sandwich jam by Johnny, Jesse Cook, and Jack Spades bassist Rob Speers, but we soon learned that Jesse was filling in for an absent Daniel Horton on guitar for the set proper. No word on why Dan wasn't there, but it was nice to see Jesse back with his old band for at least one night! Returning to the stage for the first time in six months, Jack Spades picked up where they left off with an explosive set of originals like "Breakneck Speed", "Sewer City Radio" (improvised lyrics and all), and "Crossroads", plus some later fan favourite covers. This set gave us more of Jack Spades' intense and hard hitting sound, with J.D. Pearce at his aggressive top form, and Rob Speers' bass lines came through well! Great way to end things at the Algonquin Pub!

Overall, the musical lineup downstairs was entertaining and delivered in their own ways, and huge kudos to Tiffany and Johnny for pulling triple duty in three different bands, not to mention Rob, Jesse, and Adam playing in different bands on each floor! I hope the Algonquin Pub lineup didn't fly under the radar too much, but if you missed out, I did get photos and videos of all three bands, the latter now available on our Facebook page and at this link (both floors are in that album.) As for videos, here's Stegadeth covering The Rebel Spell's "All We Want", Coral Fang covering The Distillers' "Sick Of It All", and Jack Spades playing "Motorwolf"!

That's all for today, but stay tuned for our review of the Rockstar Bar half of Punk Rock Princess Fest in our next post! Thanks everyone!

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